Wallahs to Watch: Bountiful Brooklyn Bhav Births New Bhakti Band, Kirtan Soul Revival (Videos)

by Brenda Patoine on August 7, 2012

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The bhav is bountiful in Brooklyn these days.  Nina Rao, right arm to Krishna Das and Champion of the Chalisa, is based there.  Amma devotee Devadas is there.  Chantresses Shyama Chapin and Ambika Cooper, tabla whiz KC Solaris, Jeremy & Lily Frindel and their kirtan-championing Brooklyn Yoga School…the list goes on.  Now you can add a new kid — er, kids — to the list:  Kirtan Soul Revival.

Granted, KSR, as they’ve labeled themselves (how vogue!), may not exactly be a household acronym in the kirtan world, but remember the name, because this trio is building something beautiful (to borrow a line from one of their original songs).  Their promo materials herald them as NYC’s “newest, funkiest, devotional music experience.”  We’ll buy that.

Double-Billing with The Hanumen

We first caught up with these Brooklyn bhaktas — Helen Styring Tocci, Calia Marshall and Todd Keller, along with fellow Brooklynite K.C. Solaris guesting on tabla — at Goddard College in Vermont, where they played a short set after The Hanumen concert there (not bad company). Their set was audiocast live over WGDR-FM’s Website along with The Hanumen, creating a little buzz and giving this young start-up some welcome exposure. It was all part of their first mini-tour, which also included concerts at Evolution Yoga in Burlington; Yoga Mountain in Montpelier, Vt., and South Boston Yoga, the kirtan nursery where Irene Solea, among others, got their start.

KSR has an inviting, easy-going vibe that drew everyone — even first-time chanters — into the bhav, whether it was call-and-response to a traditional Sanskrit chant (like “Jaya Bolo Ram,” video below) or sing-along to a Beatles classic fused into one of their own feel-good anthems (like “Imagine/We Can Live in Love,” video below).

But make no mistake. What sets this threesome apart is simple:  three sets of pipes.

Where many bands, of any genre, may have one outstanding vocalist who carries the weight of the singing, KSR has three.  And they don’t hold back.  In between solos showcasing their individual vocal prowess, they were belting out three-part harmonies like the best a capela barber shop trio.  You couldn’t help but sit up and take notice, even after the vocal fireworks of Benjy Wertheimer’s Alleluia solo (a tough act to follow, no doubt.)

Those harmonies — along with a taste of K.C. Solaris’s rockin’ tabla magic — are on display in both videos below. See if you agree that this group is one to watch.

Tell us what you think!

KSR doesn’t have a full album yet, but does have an EP with three nice long chants on it, including a version of Jaya Bolo Ram.  You can find out more and sign up for the email list by visiting Kirtan Soul Revival on facebook.

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